Government suggests corruption busting courts

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 11-12-2019 17:38:00 · 0 Comments

The establishment of special courts to prosecute corruption and related crimes, the possibility for defendants to make agreements at trial and improve the law on the primary right are some of Portugal’s government's intentions in the area of justice.

An official source told Lusa that these and other suggestions will be analysed from January onwards by the justice working group, announced on Thursday and that it will present its report with concrete proposals at the end of April.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, the government is convinced that it is necessary to find ways of investigating and judging corruption cases in less time and avoiding the construction of mega processes.

For this, a source from the justice ministry said that it is necessary to intervene in the Criminal Procedure Code (CPP) to make it a clearer and more agile tool.

According to the source, it is urgent to change the method of setting up the processes to avoid "giant cases", since this prevents the effectiveness and citizens' understanding of the application of justice.

Another of the problems detected in the area of economic and financial crimes and which will be addressed by the working group is the lack of capacity of the Public Prosecutor's Office to apply the figure of premier law (which allows the reduction of conviction).

Currently, the law requires the whistleblower to be one of those involved in the crime and to report it within 30 days after the facts have been committed, which makes the mechanism very difficult to apply.

The package of measures that fit into the national strategy to combat corruption includes the creation of specialised courts to judge this crime and related crimes, focusing on specialisation, as the Public Prosecutor's Office has already done in the investigation phase.

In addition to the already existing possibility of the defendants benefiting from the provisional suspension of the process, through the application of an injunction for the payment of what is due to the state, the source considers that it is admissible to create a negotiated sentencing agreement, that is, the defendant admits crime and guilt, is willing to return the proceeds obtained through the economic crime and in return the judge proposes a reduced effective penalty.

The state must invest in mechanisms to capture the illegally obtained product, the source said.

The group will be formed by members of the attorney general's office, the Polícia Judiciária, the superior council for the judiciary, the council for the prevention of corruption and academics.

The government defined in its programme the elaboration of a national anti-corruption report, an evaluation of the permeability of the laws to fraud risks and a reduction of legal complexities and bureaucratic burden.

The fight against corruption and related crimes require further strengthening of the means of the prosecution, the judiciary and the courts, according to the government's programme.

The latest official figures point to the opening of 71 cases in 2018 for crimes against the state committed in the exercise of public functions.

The prosecutor's office opened 1,358 corruption investigations between November 2017 and October 2018 and during the same period of the 2,517 completed cases, it indicted 152, or 6%.


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